Amnesty International express concerns over the trial and imprisonment of the Miami Five.

Campaign News | Wednesday, 15 January 2003

Article from CSC

Amnesty International express concerns over the trial and imprisonment of the Miami Five.

By Rob Miller

CSC Director

When Olga Salanueva, wife of Rene Gonzalez came to the UK in November as a guest of Cuba Solidarity Campaign she visited the Americas Regional Program Desk of the International Secretariat of Amnesty International to explain the background to the case. The International Secretariat is the nucleus and policy making body for all the Amnesty Sections in over 100 countries and as such the meeting was of great importance. Olga was able to highlight the injustices of the case and the unfairness of the trial which was held in the hostile environment of Miami. She was able to give her own examples of the way in which she and her daughter have been denied visiting rights as well as describing the inhumane treatment of all the prisoners and their families.

Following the meeting Amnesty have now written to the Attorney General, John Ashcroft and Kathleen Hawk Sawyer, Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The letter sets out the allegations of mistreatment and shows how such treatment is a denial of a host of basic human rights. The letter shows how the denial of visiting rights and blocking of her access to Cuban Consular officials on her detention in Houston to Ms Perez O’Connor, the wife of Gerardo Hernandez Nordelo, was “contrary to Article 36 of the Vienna Convention.”

The Amnesty letter highlights the international standards which emphasize the importance of the family and the right of all prisoners to maintain contact with their families and to receive visits. The Body of Principles for the Protection of all Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment provides that:

“19. A detained or imprisoned person shall have the right to visit and to correspond with, in particular, members of his family … subject to reasonable conditions and restrictions as specified by law or lawful regulations.”

The Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners provide that:

“37. Prisoners shall be allowed under necessary supervision to communicate with their family and reputable friends at regular intervals, both by correspondence and by receiving visits.”

Amnesty urge the Attorney General to “carefully review all requests from immediate family members for permission to visit the prisoners, with a view to ensuring that prisoners maintain contact with their families and their children wherever possible, including through regular visits, and that such contact is not unduly restricted.”

As we go to press there has not been any response to the Amnesty letter but CSC will press for Amnesty International to further its investigations and continue to make representations regarding the treatment of the Miami Five.

Finally, Amnesty International state that they are looking separately into “the fairness of the criminal proceedings leading to the convictions in the above cases.”

The full text of the Amnesty letter is available at

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